Category Archives: Stephen Black

Agaricus blazeii Murrill, Sacha Inchi Oil and Me (part 2)

the first part of this post is here

To review, from about 1999 to 2002, I was very involved with researching and promoting a medicinal and gourmet mushroom called ABM, Agaricus blazeii Murrill. As part of this, I wrote my first book. I did this in Tokyo, Manhattan and around Toledo, Ohio. I established many relationships and enjoyed being involved with a healthful food item in a positive community, and creating possibilities. However, I entered the world of VR and, after that, returned to the world of books and art. I don’t feel as if there are huge differences between the different areas in my life.

Everything is about human relationships and data/information. Efficiency and planning are the keys and I am always working to improve in these areas, without becoming closed-minded. I've been told that the Japanese word for “busy”(isogashii) means “no heart”. Something like that.

So... Johor Bahru, Malaysia. April 2017. Sacha inchi oil. When you are around people who are really healthy, you notice it immediately. !!!! As a writer I have to be careful here! Sometimes, when one describes one’s interactions and activities that are associated with healthy foods and practices, it is easy to across as purely a salesman, sincere or otherwise. Yes, there is an economic aspect, but it is not the main reason that I am thinking about sacha inchi. Sales can lead to an awareness of the powers within plants and humans.

Sacha inchi reminds me of ABM very much. I am considering getting involved with it because I now have experience in sharing nutraceutical information, and interest in sacha inchi is already starting. It seems that Singapore, Malaysia and China are growing markets. America and Japan have potential.

It would be interesting to come up with some idea that combines art with sacha oil. A year ago, my partner and I performed the Iron Fire Riceball Tour, which combined performance art with food art. Meaning simply, we just marched around to all of the organic food stores in Singapore and asked any of the staff if they would like to try an organic riceball flavored with organic miso with permaculture grown ingredients. It was not a commercial project, it was about communication and connecting;art. We didn’t talk business, though it was clear where the miso and rice came from. We had been living in Bali and had worked on the permaculture farm that produced the miso. That little tour was beautiful.

So now; it is an amusement for me to think of how to connect with saha ishi in a way that is personal. What I have thought of so far:

-a book on sacha inchi, but one that is a collection of short stories about everything from the history of the plant to the growing to the processing to the person who is using sacha inchi as a treatment for a serious diseases.Fact-based fiction with emotion.

-a 360 short film that documents a room full of longtime saha ichi users. The setting would be naturalistic and simple. There would be at least 10 or 12 actors and actresses. These people would not have to do anything, but they would be aware of the fact that they are being filmed. The person who sees the film would, simply, sense and observe the healthy bodies.

-the sacha inchi game. Something interactive, of course.Exciting and based on how scientists think sacha inchi empowers the immune system, it would be cool to make a game something like this:

I will think. Sacha inchi is good stuff!

Agaricus blazeii Murrill, Sacha Inchi Oil and Me

Unexpectedly, I now find myself in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. I have been here for two months, during which time I started to write a book called Touching JB. It is about Johor Bahru, Singapore, food, AR/VR, people, game development, history; many things. It is also self-reflective, but hopefully not in a narcissistic way. My past experiences connect me to the present and future, of course, as they do for everyone.

The most recent example of this involves something called Sacha Inchi Oil. I  was just introduced to it here in JB, and I am very interested in it. First, some background information. The first book I wrote was called the Agaricus blazei Murrill Notebook. It was print-on-demand, but I never marketed it. I believe in that book, but it needs to be revised. Paul Stamets, one of the world’s top mushroom scientists, wrote to me soon after I informed him of the book. He told me two things and then suggested I stop publication.

I don't remember exactly,but first Paul told me something like the taxonomy (the way that scientists classify things) for the "ABM" mushroom had changed. Agaricus blazeii Murrill had become cultivated and improved so much that it was considered to have be a new species called agaricus subrufescens.Or something like that; even now the taxonomy isn't straightforward. That happened weeks before I finished the book, and I was unaware of it. That by itself was not an absolute game changer, as most of people would continue to use the old name or would be aware of both. The other complication was that a test result that I referred to in the book had been found to be inaccurate; falsified.So, despite a great deal of interest, I didn’t get the ABM Notebook in the hands of readers.

At the time of the book’s completion I had moved to Singapore to work for a startup doing 3D gamemaking/VR, which I was thrilled to be doing, but which also took up all of my time.I didn’t revise the book.

Before the move to Singapore, I was working with an amazing woman who was a pharmacist and a mother of two boys. We were both living in Japan at that time, and it was there that she introduced me to the company that grew and produced very high quality ABM. We sold their product on the internet as well as at health fairs in the US.The challenges: we were both new at selling something like ABM, the internet was new to us and our freeze-dried ABM was extremely expensive. We seemed to be pioneers as very few people knew about ABM. In short, we learned a lot, made some great connections and didn’t sell much.

However...there are very few things that can compare to playing a small part in a process that results in a person regaining some, or all, of their health.

However, the partnership, the international network and the lessons learned became dormant. But... a few days ago, I discovered sacha inchi oil.

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Part two of this story is here.

re: Paul Stamet; This is his company.

This TED talk by Paul is full of mushroom/cancer facts and hope. Go to 1:20

Two in the Afternoon (microfiction from Touching JB)

We were sitting on the chairs in front of the wood burning stove when they materialized. Their arms were like Japanese Easter eggs. Finally, the young man stopped with his thumbs and looked up from his phone. On top of his peppery skull was a filet of pink hair. Circular wire eyeglasses, yellow irises. He moved his head a little, then reached for the curry puffs. Started eating before he paid. The girl took hers without looking up.

The man behind the counter smiled sincerely, thanked them. Behind him, the wall was full of photos and newspaper clippings, most from when the man’s hair and beard weren’t white. Near the cash register: two playful photos of him and his wife at the Taj Mahal. Once, at the 123 Cafe, he'd told me that theirs was an arranged marriage. She passed away. Lung cancer. He didn’t say more.

The chairs we are in are comfortable. I am eating a piece of cream bread, she is chewing and studying her red bean puff. Saluddhin’s bakery has an authenticity that would usually capture my attention, but now I cannot help thinking about a game called Firewatch. It’s about a man living alone in the forests of Wyoming, a man whose wife may have early-onset dementia.

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I am on target to finish a 50,000 word book by the end of April. The book is called Touching JB and is a mix of writing about travel, VR/AR, Johor Bahru, Singapore, Southeast Asia, food, history, gaming and memoir. I am excited about this and hope I can stay on schedule.

 

Biff “Graybox” Enum: Game Developer

Powerfrog Troopers Revolution Quest 2: The Croak Goes On (100 million units sold). Who wrote it? Me. Is my name on it? No… Tungsten Fortress Golf Romancer III Seventy-five million units. Eight months of my life, a nice chunk of change and another iPhone, but did I get any work because that? NO. Alekhine Defense of Immortal Soccer Regends. Twenty-three million units. Writing nonstop to meet that deadline nearly blinded me, but after launch was my inbox flooded with job offers? No, no and no.

Hi. My name is  Biff Enum and I’m a game designer. “Grayboox “is my middle name and scripting addictive interactive stories is my game.

I”ve contributed to projects that have sold over 585 million cross platform units and yet you’ve never heard of me? Why? Cause I’m a secret agent man. White labellissimo. Ghosty stylee. Incognito.That’s me.

Let’s pretend you are in Kyoto, visiting an “entertainment company” and you are escorted into a room to “have a cup of tea”. You are left alone in a room that looks like the  Videogame Hall of Fame. You correctly sense that if you take a photo, your broken camera and/or body part will remain in the room. Before you can memorize anything, a kawaii OL enters and says,” I am sorry. It is mistake of room, you can drink with tea upstairs. If you mention this room to anyone you will be disemboweled, regardless of your global location. Shall we go?”

My CV is something like that. Guys who are ethically challenged would like to “have a word with me” if I tell anyone about the complete list of projects I’ve worked on. I have been called a “game developer’s game developer” which means my ideas are uncredited and stolen .It’s not always a problem, this whitelabel business. When a clunker like Revenge of Epic of Bloopy Babies falls flat on its face, I’m  search engine safe.

Why do I work so hard for no recognition? Money! I am a narrative artist and since I was a child I wanted to write, with passion, stories that shake and explore the emotional blindspots of people. I want to fundamentally compel them to confront our modern world with all of its contradictions so as to engage better with their fractured lives. My novelistic work is disturbing.The only game I have worked on which references my literary sensibility is Quest of the Galaxy Dancemaster Ninjas.

With the money I’ve earned as a ghostwriter, I am self-publishing a cross-genre novel that combines elements of GTA with an Undine legend, Switezianka, which is about a hunter and a water nymph. Do subscribe to my blog for updates on this unforgettable postmodern tale of fickle love, European women wearing wet clothes, gunfire and ultrahighspeed Pegassi car chases.

Thank you for stopping by.

Biff

Touching JB: a relaxed description of a book and photo project set in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

so far, the best introduction to this project.... Touching JB is being crowdfunded... thanks for thinking of it... https://www.zingohub.com/#/en-GBL/c/touching-jb unrelated

Touching JB: intro to the new book by Stephen Black

Touching JB: I am very very hugely, remarkably, extremely mega-excited about this project. Adrenaline, research, romance, Johor Bahru and assam laksa. Onward!

VC questions applied to a book and a VR startup

I am presently in Johor Bahru Malaysia, where I am duotasking: writing a book and concluding the research necessary to begin  a VR-related startup. The questions that investors ask are a must for for my startup and an interesting way to look at my book project. The VR section immediately follows the book section.   VC Questions for Touching JB, a book by Stephen Black   What is it? A 50,00 word book based on the experiences, thoughts and blog posts of Stephen Black, written during an unexpected stay in Johor Bahru, Malaysia i the spring of 2017. Topics and themes include  cultural issues, human relationships, food, comedy, art and virtual reality.   What problem does it solve? There are no fact-based fiction books about Johor Bahru. As JB continues to gain international recognition, Touching JB will also gain prominence Competition There are no comparable books about JB. Who is making it? Bestselling author and producer Stephen Black is making it, aided by Book Merah, who made i ate tiong bahru a bestseller in Singapore.   Potential audience? Ten thousand readers within five years.   What work has been done? 25,000 words have been written. On schedule.   How will it grow? Book Merah will handle promotion and marketing. The readers of  Black's previous books will be the first group contacted. Once reviews are secured, large scale promotion will begin.   References Goodreads, Amazon,Art Review Asia, Expat Living Magazine   Schedule Finish writing in April. E-publishing and promotion to follow immediately.   VC Questions for a VR-related startup being initiated by Stephen Black Note; Parts of the following are intentionally vague and for now SVRP (Steve’s VR Project) is being used as the project name.   What is it? A Google Daydream ap and platform  for nongaming casual VR users.   What problem does it solve? Entertainment, education, tourism and other industries will have a tool to build audiences with. Competition There is, presently, no competition. Who is making it? Experienced 3D and gaming producer Stephen Black   Potential audience? Tens of millions+ What work has been done? Extensive research, planning and paper grey boxing How will it grow? Carefully chosen beta testers, then alpha companies and individuals, freeware   References Previous projects were successfully used by the Singapore Science Center and the Singapore Ministry of Education   Schedule Prepare mockup. Find money. Go forth and prosper.  

Let’s Spend the River Together

the writing spree begins now; in  Johor Bahru, Malaysia at 2AM... What a delight it is when unplanned events suddenly enrich our lives. A small example: I wanted to research the possibilities of short story/gaming mashups. This search led me to the work of Marc Laidlaw.  His words and ideas helped shape the legendary Half-Life.  His blog post about writing for games  is a burning  Panthunian crystal, set high on a hill; guidance  for the  hooded, tired traveler that was my question. However, what was delightful is this: I have been researching hands, especially all that is profundis , as well as writing about photography. Mr. Laidlaw had once been approached about doing a “cover version” of The Viewfinder by Raymond Carver.  Hats off to  Larry McCaffery for that idea. Fingers and a camera figure prominently in Carver’s story! My  “cover” of The Viewfinder is now in its second draft and will be in the JB book. I will do my best, but it will never be as good as this story about a musical cover: http://www.blacksteps.tv/the-greatest-music-of-all-time/   PS: Just discovered this, about the use of photography in The Viewfinder:  https://www.scribd.com/document/263990334/Raymond-Carver-in-the-Viewfinder   PSS Here is the latest draft of my cover of The Viewfinder.           Weaselspittism

Steve’s VR Startup

I began working with VR in 2002, with a software development kit for children, the CDK. The Creative Development Kit allowed inexperienced children AND serious game developers to create games and projects, using our models and commands. The CDK was studied by the Singaporean Ministry of Education and used in schools throughout Singapore, as well as in the Singapore Science Center.  I took a hiatus from VR to write books, one of which has become a best seller in Singapore. I also  began research f0r a book on digital cinematography/VR/art, co-produced/curated SPOKEN, a virtual gallery with Eugene Soh and wrote/co-produced/starred in a 360 short film called Beach Road. In the middle of 2016, I decided that the time was right for my VR ideas. This blog is filled with posts about research , seminars, meetings etc. I am now refining my pitchdeck for presentation to investors/VCs. I would prefer to bootstrap, but for this company, at this time, that is a challenge that would seem to take a long time to solve.
................... Here are the basic questions investors want answered: What is it? What problem does it solve? Who is making it? Potential audience? What work has been done? How will it grow? Business projections Resources needed Reference Schedule Describe yourself Skills Here is what I can share publicly at this time. Potential audience? One billion (yes, that is a 'b') What work has been done? Extensive pre-production  including: research, research research, paper mockup, paper grey box mockup, troubleshooting  bootcamp with trusted associates, started theoretical command sequences for programmers, UI design(fonts, layout color patterns) How will it grow? I have compiled a list of personal connections and carefully selected industry leaders (mainly bloggers and journalists). These people would form a base for testing. Additionally, when the time is right, a press release will be sent to the VR media and notification give to VR social media groups. The user base will grow through these channels as well as through word of mouth. Other methods of promotion have been planned. In addition to meeting a need, the project is fun to use. Though the project is simple and functional, the user experience will feel like the best parts of a five star restaurant, Cirque Soleil and driving a Ferrari. Business projections: Huge If you would like to know more or be a beta tester, feel free to get in touch. Onward!   SB      

Touching Johor Bahru 1

I've plenty of notes about this place, as well the nights I've spent with the present owner at the 123 Cafe... http://johorkaki.blogspot.com/2012/01/indian-curry-puffs-salahuddin-bakery-in.html?m=1 https://m.facebook.com/pages/Salahuddin-Bakery-Jalan-Dhoby/151382781582630 https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g298278-d7139589-Reviews-Salahuddin_Bakery-Johor_Bahru_Johor_Bahru_District_Johor.html